Barbara Mack review 5 Mar 2017
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
Learning to hunt/catch lionfish. The 3 daily dives
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Bring your own equipment, since equipment at reefci isn't well-maintained. Here is what I wrote on another website:
The equipment overall was a little tatty - not a big deal - except one mouthpiece on my regulator was broken, which I didn't discover until I was in the water, and a strap on the BCD was broken so that the tank was actually floating perpendicular to me during the dive. These issues were tended to once pointed out, but clearly not much attention is being paid to the state of the equipment - which can be a safety issue - at the beginning/end of the dive. Two guests took out the kayaks, which were also pretty beaten up, and they reported that the paddles had seen better use.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Since all people employed are local, obviously it benefitted them. And eliminating some lionfish I suppose helps, but since they reproduce so quickly and prolifically, I don't think anything a volunteer does for a week will put a major dent in their population
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
Here is the review I submitted on another website:
The great: excellent, healthy food, fresh fish every day, salads, etc., courtesy of Linda, a wonderful cook who knows how to use herbs and spices to their advantage. The possibility to dive at least 3 times a day. My fellow volunteers (I was lucky and had 3 other colleagues for the week, which is not always the case). This is important, because reefci is about an acre and a half, so not much to see and do outside of the diving - but that's why you're there. Also, learning to hunt/spear lionfish is fun, as are the other volunteer activities. Marco was the divemaster, and he took great care to make sure I felt comfortable and safe (hadn't dived in quite some time).
The not so great: this is not a resort and I didn't expect resort amenities. However, be aware that, when the diving is over, there are no options for comfort. That is, there are no comfortable chairs anywhere to sit in and read a book, or even look out at the horizon or enjoy a cool drink. There is one bright overhead light in the bedrooms, so no option to just read in bed.
There are maybe 7 or 8 hammocks, out of which only one or two are deep enough to be comfortable. One guest actually fell out of one because it was so skinny. And, 7 or 8 hammocks don't suffice if there are more than 4 guests (the total for my week) since the staff use them quite a bit. I put pillows from the bed underneath my hammock to cushion any fall that might occur.
The mattresses are barely comfortable, and the plumbing could use a little help - the faucets actually moved from left to right as I turned the water on/off. Screening covers half the doors to the bedrooms, and at least for my room, the screens were ripped pretty badly.
My shower had enough water - not a lot, but enough of a dribble - but other guests' showers didn't, so I was happy to share my facility with them.
I was there in February so wasn't uncomfortably hot, but I would imagine the summertime heat could be unbearable.
My divemaster, Marco, was pretty great. However I took one dive with Frank, who didn't show the least interest in the group that he led. In fact, the two visitors that I dived with canceled their afternoon booking with him because they got so little out of it. He basically "led" the dive but didn't look for or point out anything interesting. So, look to dive with Marco if you go, or at least avoid Frank.
The above are maybe quibbles, and they didn't detract from a memorable week - but a lot of that was due to the great people I shared the week with. Alone on that island, or with less companionable folks - and this might be a different review.
Overall, the above are simple fixes, and it's a shame that the owner doesn't invest a little in the upkeep of the place. But, it seems that ecotravel brings in enough volunteers so the place can operate at a barebones level.
Read the operator's response here:
Hi Barbara! Thanks so much for your review, we really appreciate hearing how you got on and taking the time to provide such detailed feedback. We're really pleased to hear how much you enjoyed the regular dives, learning to hunt lionfish and the food. Food on the island regularly gets commented upon in volunteers' feedback and the lionfish fish fingers and barracuda that we had when I was there were incredible! We have also taken on board the parts of the trip that you didn't enjoy as much and will be working closely with the team in Belize to make improvements wherever possible as we want all volunteers to have the best possible experience at our projects. If you would like me to give you a call to discuss the points in any more detail, please just let me know and I'll be happy to do so. Best Wishes, Erin,